When people mourn the death of a loved one, it is probably the most boring, cliché-filled, intolerable thing on the planet. If you don't know the dead person or don't care about the fact that the dead person is dead, you might say "I'm sorry for your loss", but after that you go home, break out the Fritos and the Lemonade, and party like it was 1999. In other words, you forget.Death is dull. So, if you're a filmmaker and you want to do a story that revolves around death, what do you do? Simple, you make it funny.
You do this because if you forced people to sit in a crowded theater for two hours and watch a family mourn the death of their daughter in a way that resembled reality, the people in the audience would probably kill themselves. However, if you get to watch Ben Floss (Dustin Hoffman) and JoJo Floss (Susan Sarandon) mourn the death of their daughter along with their daughters fiancé, Joe Nast (Jake Gyllenhaal), with laughter and eccentricity, you get to laugh, reflect, and ruminate on the possibility that there really is a lot of pain hiding underneath that laughter and when is it going to just explode in a frenzy of Oscar-winning angst?Writer/director Brad ("Casper") Silberling sets up the peculiar and totally unrealistic scenario of Joe living with his would-have-been in-laws because he thinks he's doing them some sort of favor. Joe doesn't know what he wants and he thinks he's giving Ben and JoJo what they want. Then, when he meets Bertie Knox (Ellen Pompeo), who's naturally the cutest thing on the planet, that whole mission about pleasing others kind of goes out the window.
If the sexual attraction between Joe and Bertie weren't enough to make fate seem like a giant, pre-packaged, Slim Jim, you could buy at any gas station with the right amount of pocket change, Bertie has her very own tragedy that she can spring on Joe. She too has a significant other who's dead. Fortunately for Joe, Bertie is carrying around this burden of not being able to let go that allows Joe to teach her to let go thereby freeing her to live again. In fact, Joe's revelation that he must follow his heart allows everybody to live again. Do Ben and JoJo get upset because he lied to them? No. They realize they can live again and that they are free, free like birds flying through the beautiful blue sky. Ben suddenly solves his anal-compulsive disorder. JoJo starts writing again. All becomes well with the world.Hollywood death, it's fun and illuminating, the way death should be.
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